The event took place earlier today and tackled some of the big questions facing employers today in terms of family-friendly policies and what is needed going forward.
It took place inside the Houses of Parliament, featured some of those doing great work in the sector and was called ‘Sharing the juggle: Do we need a radical rethink of how society and business support parents?’
But while the panel – which included dad blogger Elliott Rae, Caroline Nokes MP, Paul Scully MP, as well as representatives from sponsor John Lewis Partnership and charity Home-Start UK – acknowledged the answer to the topic being discussed was, well, yes, the parliamentary response wasn’t quite so enthusiastic.
Caroline Nokes suggested childcare was back on the governmental agenda although was worried the onus for change might be put on providers by increasing adult/child ratios. Meanwhile, Paul Scully, Minister for Labour Markets, intimated family-friendly policies like paternity leave are low down on the agenda as Parliament seeks to clear its legislative backlog.
“You’re not going to see that much change quickly,” he said.
Nevertheless Rae, founder of Music.Football.Fatherhood., argued that while it was important for people to keep pushing this subject forward, policy change was essential.
“We need to learn from countries that are doing it a lot better than us,” he said, positing the idea of ringfenced paternity leave lasting three to six months. “The concept of sharing just doesn’t work. We know enhanced shared parental leave is okay, but the concept of sharing, or taking away from your partner, it just doesn’t work. I speak to so many dads that are not willing to do that, are not capable of doing that.”
Added Nokes, “The concept of shared parental leave can actually put more strain on parents and no partner [wants] to take time away from the mother’s parental leave.”
Rae also said the cause needed to engage those who might not be currently.
“It’s really key to look at intersectionality and how we can help the people that need it the most,” he continued.
“It might be single parents, parents of disabled children, Black and Asian minority ethnic parents who have other inequalities to deal with as well. There are lots of people who are privileged who need help, but there are lots of people we don’t see, who probably aren’t in this room, that aren’t part of the conversation, that we need to really engage.”
He also urged the top-level execs of companies to model the correct behaviour when it came to utilising family-friendly policies within their businesses.